A varied, balanced diet is important for all the family but especially for growing children. Providing your child with a variety of different foods will ensure that they are getting all the vitamins and minerals that are needed for healthy growth. The ideal healthy diet is comprised of:
- Lots of fruit and vegetables. At least 5 portions per day (a portion is roughly the size of your child’s palm. Try to provide a ‘rainbow’ of fruit and vegetables, each a different colour and they will provide different nutrients.
- Smaller amounts of fish and meat.
- Milk and dairy products for healthy bone growth
- Healthy carbohydrates such as wholemeal bread and pasta, potatoes and brown rice.
- Lots of water.
Try to restrict fatty or sugary foods and never use these ‘treats’ to reward your child, as they will then associate them with feeling good. Try instead to use praise and stickers, which children love just as much.Don’t just give up if your child refuses to eat certain foods. Vegetables can be disguised chopped finely into a Bolognese or blended to make soups and sauces. Children often like the crunch of raw vegetables such as carrots, cucumber and celery so give them a go this way too. Children’s tastes can also change so try them again later or cooked in a different way- persevere!Make sure that snacks are small and healthy. Some ideas are:
- Apple segments
- A tangerine
- Carrot batons and Houmous
- Cherry tomatoes
Children love to copy grown ups so encourage good eating habits by sitting down as a family at the table to eat your meals.
When choosing a nursery for your child make sure that they have a strong ethos of healthy living. You will be able to tell if a nursery puts time and effort into ensuring children eat healthily by looking at the variety of the meals that they offer. Look for balanced meals, made from scratch with no convenience foods (boxed frozen pizzas just won’t do!). Look for a nursery that employs a full time, qualified chef who spends time cooking with the children.